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Tesla driver sues Tesla over autopilot

Tesla is sued again because of its autopilot. In May, an accident occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, which involved a Tesla vehicle crashing into a stationary fire truck. The driver is now suing Tesla for financial compensation. Tesla’s partial autonomy system, the Tesla Autopilot, has often been criticized and has already been subject of a court case. Its name is misleading, making people think that the car can drive autonomously when activated.
Tesla has integrated a warning signal: When you let go of the steering wheel, it stars to beep. However, many sceptics doubt that this alone is a sufficient safety commitment on the part of the manufacturer. Recently, the Autopilot Buddy system was banned in the USA, because it deactivated the warnings if you did not have your hands on the steering wheel. Repeatedly there were accidents with Tesla vehicles, also including several with fatal consequences. Tesla, on the other side, emphasizes the safety advantages of its system. It serves only the support, but cannot avoid all accidents.

Tesla accident in Utah

During the Utah incident, which will now be brought to court, the Tesla even accelerated before it hit the fire engine. Although the final accident report is not available yet, it is considered certain that 3.5 seconds before the collision the car slightly accelerated to a speed of about 100 kilometers per hour. The reason for this can be found in the system - the Tesla followed another car, which then switched lanes. Therefore, the Tesla car apparently accelerated and ran into the fire truck with almost no braking, because the system had not recognized it.

Lawsuit about 300,000 US dollars

The female Tesla driver now demands a compensation in the amount of around 300,000 US dollars. She broke her foot, which caused high medical costs. She also stated that back in 2016, when she bought the car, the seller explained to her she only had to touch the steering wheel from time to time. When she suddenly spotted the fire truck standing in front of her, she tried to brake. According to the statement, the brakes did not work at all in the moment.

Preliminary accident report of the NHTSA

The accident report of the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) confirms that the woman had last touched the steering wheel 80 seconds before the accident and she pressed the brakes just a second before the impact. Nevertheless, she will also get penalized for looking at something on her smartphone. She would be fine with that if she won the process.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: